Back Launch of Council of Europe Action Plan for Georgia

As delivered by Bjørn Berge, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe


Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, dear Lasha,

Deputy Ministers,



Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,


It is a great pleasure to be back in Tbilisi –

And to take part in launching our new Action Plan for Georgia.

The Plan is an excellent overview of the key joint projects and priorities between the Council of Europe and the Georgian authorities –

And yet again shows our Organisation and our members states’ deep commitment to work closely with the Georgian authorities –

Along with civil society and others –

To help secure Georgia’s further Euro-Atlantic integration, including future membership of the European Union.

And of course, as we move ahead, we will build upon the already very well-established co-operation with Georgia, and the achievements made under several previous Action Plans.

Action Plans that have included the adoption of a new legal framework in Georgia on the application of the European Convention on Human Rights and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights –

Which are fundamental to ensuring that our common European standards are met, and this again helps us uphold the Convention system throughout Europe.

I note in particular that a new Strategy on the Prosecution Service of Georgia has been put in place, that will help to ensure prosecutors’ independence, integrity and self-governance –

And the law “On Fighting against Corruption” has been amended which, along with other changes, which allows the authorities to investigate, prosecute and decide cases of corruption.

I mention the fight against corruption as this is a task all European countries have in common, throughout our continent.

On top of this, there has also been substantial progress on policing, healthcare in prisons, children’s rights, and in many other areas as well.

So today, I salute and congratulate the Georgian authorities for what has been done.

And the Action Plan for 2024-2027 that we launch today will build on what has been achieved.

And it builds on the latest and updated information available –

The Council of Europe’s latest evaluations, monitoring reports and recommendations, as well as the Reykjavík Declaration agreed by Europe’s leaders at our Summit of Heads of State and Government last May –

But most importantly, the Action Plan is based upon the priorities of Georgia itself.

These include reforms that will help pave the way for this great country to become a member state of the European Union –

Having been awarded candidate status just last month.

It is interesting to note that opinion polls show that a very large majority of Georgians – 90% of those surveyed, in fact – support this aspiration.

Although the Council of Europe is certainly not the EU, we are happy that we can work together to help Georgia address the recommendations set out in the European Commission’s Opinion as regards human rights, democracy and rule of law – which go to the core of the Council of Europe’s mandate.

So, dear friends, you may ask – what does all of this mean in practice?

Yes, there will be further action in keys areas of our co-operation – the “traditional” areas –

The execution of judgments from the Strasbourg Court –

Judicial reforms –

And efforts to tackle several types of crime –

Along with further work to extend freedom of expression and the media –

To prevent discrimination –

And to combat violence against women and domestic violence.

These and other key issues will remain vitally important –

But this Action Plan also opens up new areas of focus such as –

Business and human rights –

Human rights and biomedicine –

Drug use and addiction –

Parliamentary co-operation –

And of course, the role of youth in our democracies –

Because it is vital for our shared future that young people really understand the benefits of democracy for themselves and for one another –

And that they feel able and motivated to play their own part in making their democracies work –

And that they also feel confident and empowered to defend our political institutions – our democracies – our way of life – when they come under attack.

I also want to mention to you today the decision to focus on action to protect the environment through the perspective of human rights.

This is an area that was actually introduced with strength and determination during the Georgian Presidency in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe five years ago.

And you were right as things have only become worse.

2023 has just been confirmed as the warmest year since records began –

With both air and sea surface temperatures hitting new highs, in Europe and elswhere.

So we need to act – and urgently.

And here the Council of Europe can certainly also play its role.

So, all European leaders at our Reykjavík Summit were right to commit to taking urgent steps –

And we are undertaking a range of different measures, building upon the Strasbourg Court’s important case law on the environment and human rights, as well as discussing the possibility of negotiating a new framework convention on human rights and environment.

And I am sure this Action Plan will help ensure further progress on the ground here in Georgia –

Dear friends,

What we are launching today is a 20-million-euro investment, first of all in Georgia’s future – but also in Europe’s future.

And let me also express our deep gratitude to those who have made voluntary contributions, and to those who will go on to do so.

I am also pleased that part of the money will come from our Organisation’s Ordinary budget.

Our member states have agreed to provide – and gradually increase – core funding for action plans, including this one –

A decision that is a testament to their support and their solidarity with Georgia.

So, let the work begin.

Efforts that will draw upon the commitment of the Georgian Government, the involvement of civil society and also the close co-operation of both the European Union and the Council of Europe.

We highly appreciate the excellent relations and
co-operation with the Georgian authorities –

Its various ministries and agencies, and its independent institutions – including the Public Defender’s Office, whose reputation is strong at both the national and international level.

Together, I have no doubt that the shared investment of both our time and resources will make us succeed and help the new Action Plan be a successful tool for both Georgia and the Council of Europe.


Thank you for your attention.

18 January 2024 Tbilisi
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